Making the announcement

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In another step towards changing over from being an ad hoc “cabal” to a formal committee I asked for and received the names and contact information of the people who have been a part of the group. I was pleasantly surprised that there were about a dozen people. This is a testimony to Mary’s organizational skills. While she may seem like one of those flaky white liberals just running around doing thins, the fact is she helped create some pretty impressive events. The question is, what to do with all of the energy that she has helped create? Where does it go?

I will be busy sending out an email informing people of the changeover and and finding a date for our first meeting. Next week I will be attending the my first meeting of the social justice council as the chair of the new black lives committee. Once more into the breach.

Helping Milwaukee County Make Decisions

A few years ago the Republican controlled state legislature passed a law taking decision-making authority for mental health away from the elected county supervisors and replaced them with a group of volunteers from the community. The board includes mental health consumers, attorneys, advocates and mental health professionals. There are a lot of big decisions to be made regarding Milwaukee County mental health. The county is moving away from the model of maintaining a large mental health facility which they have been downsizing over the years by closing wards and shifting the people who lived there to community based facilities. Case management, which helps people live in the community, has already been contracted out to various agencies. These agencies help engage with consumers and connect them to services with the aim of reducing their dependence on in patient treatment, which is expensive and often very traumatic.

However, there are no guarantees in this system. We all know people in community programs who died but we can try to reduce the number of preventable deaths. We can ensure that case management provides necessary services. We can increase the number of affordable housing units. We can offer physical and mental health in a coordinated fashion and make certain that people are getting regular check ups. We can have clinics where we would want to be treated. These are very easy steps we can take in our own agencies

But what we do to guide the process of system wide reform? One way is by joining the mental health board. Imagine my surprise when a former co-worker asked me to apply to join the board, which is appointed by the county executive. I will be tossing my hat into the ring tonight to see if I can add my experience to this group. I am excited, interested and curious all at the same time. I will post some more as the process goes along.

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I wish I lived in DC

I have been watching videos of a remarkable church in Washington DC the All Souls Unitarian. It is an intentionally multi ethnic multi cultural church that rocks. All Souls is a historic church that has been in forefront of struggles for civil rights. It has a staff that is a mosaic and the services, as far as I can see, are often lively. It is a welcoming place to  be and I would hope that other churches would take a lesson. I have posted many of their you tube videos on my facebook page. This is the first time I have ever posted something like this about attending church!

Do brown people make a difference?

After I wrote a blog post earlier this afternoon I happened to see a few pictures that interested me. I saw a picture of the police chief, whose name is Brown, and discovered his nice dark complexion, the same as mine. When I checked some other pictures of Dallas police comforting people I saw the same thin. That if twisted young Micah Johnson had wanted to start a race war, he had come to the wrong place. Maybe. When I was growing up, my friends and I spoke of the police as an army of occupation. I never recall seeing a black or brown person wearing a badge of any sort. There were no black teachers in the white high school I attended.

In the past few fear, African Americans have gained some positions of power and authority. Mayors, governors and lo and behold, our two term president. I would be interested in knowing how the criminal justice system has changed in Dallas with Chief Brown. For change to take place, we need to evolve from an army of occupation to a family of cooperation. What do the statistics tell us?

The King James Edition

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By now everyone has heard about the Cleveland Cavaliers and their remarkable victory over the Golden State Warriors Sunday night to clinch the NBA championship. The Cavs became the first team in NBA history to come from behind after trailing 3 games to 1 to win the finals. And of course the victory fulfilled a promise made by Cavs star LeBron James when he returned to the team he had left so publicly for the Miami Heat. He had won two championships with Miami but felt he wanted to do something for the long suffering people of Cleveland. I think the best part of the story is that Le Bron James is helping to fund the education of low income students in Ohio. That’s a contribution long after people forget the championship game.

A People’s History of the United Statesl

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Liz and I have been reading our much anticipated 150th anniversary edition of The Nation, a liberal publication. I subscribed to the magazine off and on over the years when I was feeling progressive I had hoped at different periods that the socialist projects in Cuba, Vietnam and Africa would take root and bring prosperity. And yet I wanted to be a part of some sense of social change.

When The Nation advertised the subscription including the anniversary edition I jumped at it.  I wanted to share it with my little sweetheart. When I pick up the magazine and browse through, it’s amazing to think that something begun in the anti-slavery era could still be with us today. All the great writers are in there and there are so many stories about the great villains of our times. It’s like the much beloved book A People’s History of the United States.

With Donald Trump waving his penis around like a mad man, it’s refreshing to read intelligent people somewhere in America. I long to talk with James Baldwin, I.F. Stone, Emma Goldman, John Steinbeck, Alice Walker and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the only place I can these days is in The Nation. It will brighten your day.

 

 

Work with healthy consumers

 

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Today I was in a quality improvement session sponsored by Milwaukee County about improving the health outcomes of mental health consumers. The acronym for the project is LIFE which stands for Learning Ideas For Enduring. Various agencies contracting with with Milwaukee County Community Mental Health Division will be tasked with developing an implementing quality improvement projects that we will report on at a meeting in August 2016. As part of the session we brainstormed various ideas. The one that received the most votes was creating a competition for a softball league between the agencies. I’m not certain how feasible that idea is but last summer we had 2 sports themed picnics at our agency. We called them Kicknicks.

We had consumers from all three of our locations attend and they had a great time. I enjoyed myself although I became a little fatigued and had to sit down. The project that our Targeted Case Management Team developed at the meeting was called Walk It Off in which we will encourage the staff to include walking in their meeting with consumers. For instance, we might arrive at someone’s house and encourage the person to go for a walk with us. I already do this. I walked with a new consumer a few weeks ago and she seemed to enjoy it. At the staff meetings, we would report on how many times we walked with consumers. We might also get pedometers for consumers to encourage them to keep track of their own steps and reward them.

We have some staff who are struggling with their weight and began using tools such as fitbit and the agency subsidizes memberships at the YMCA. A few people also work out at the inexpensive health clubs that offer $10 per month memberships. The hope is that the staff and consumers will be happier, healthy and less stressed. What do you think?